The Untold History of Autism

Monday, March 28, 2016, 7:30 pm
Venue: Nourse Theater

Series: Conversations on Science

What is autism? A lifelong disability or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In his debut book, NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. Going back to the earliest days of autism, Silberman reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, the father of Asperger’s syndrome, and exposes the covert campaign to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for fifty years by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner. He casts light on the growing movement of “neurodiversity” activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, and accommodations both in the workplace and in education, as well as the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences. Steve Silberman will be in conversation with Roy Eisenhardt,  former Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences and adjunct professor at UC Berkeley School of Law.